Add Some Drama to Your Programs with Chamber Operas and Theatre Pieces

Add Some Drama to Your Programs with Chamber Operas and Theatre Pieces
'Death Row Memoirs of an Extraterrestrial'
Music for Galway Midwinter Festival CAPTIVE
Consider a chamber opera or theatre piece in your future programming: ranging in flexibility from one to seven voices, with durations from six minutes to approximately 100 minutes, and instrumentations from piano four-hands to sinfonietta-size, the selections below offer a wide range of possibilities. All are sung in English unless indicated.

- piano 4-hands
- clarinet, violin, piano
- clarinet, cello, piano
- violin, viola, harp
- string quartet plus
- piano quartet plus
- brass quintet plus
- wind quintet plus
- Pierrot plus
- mixed ensembles
- piano percussion plus

Bright Sheng may i feel, said he
7 minutes
Soprano, Tenor; piano 4-hands
An opera in seven minutes on the well-known poem by Edward Estlin "E. E." Cummings.
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Matthew Aucoin Second Nature
60 minutes
3 Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Bass-baritone; clarinet, violin, piano
In a future when humans have retreated from nature because of the deteriorating environment, two inquisitive and courageous youths decide to leave the safety of their artificial habitat and work to heal the planet.

Marc Neikrug Death Row Memoirs of an Extraterrestrial
30 minutes
Actor; clarinet, violin, piano
A simple story from the viewpoint of an alien, with observations and commentary on earthlings' poor communication and physical frailties, interspersed with musings on music, love, eating habits, and home.
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Andy Pape Till Death Us Do
75 minutes
Soprano, Tenor, Bass; clarinet(bass clarinet), violoncello, piano
Three childhood friends, Anna, Carl, and John, have found themselves in a love triangle. Anna and Carl are married and have a child, but we soon learn that Anna and John are secret lovers and have always had a secret dream to be together.
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Nathaniel Stookey Ivonne
20 minutes
Soprano or Mezzo-soprano; violin, viola, hapr
Ivonne is a hard-edged and emotionally detached head-secretary, circa 1960, whose shocking discovery in a company restroom shatters her resolutely controlled façade.
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Philip Glass In the Penal Colony
80 minutes
Tenor, Baritone, 2 Actors; 2 violin, viola, violoncello, double bass
Based on Kafka's short story of the same title, an execution is planned for one of the prisoners of the 'colony'. An execution machine is routinely used. Kafka's tale explores, extensively and poetically, issues of humanism, idealism, and transfiguration.

Per Nørgård Nuit des Hommes
60 minutes; French
Mezzo-woprano, Tenor; 2 violin, viola, violoncello, electronics
Early twentieth century: God-Man claims to be created in the image of God. Alice's admiration for Wilhelm in his uniform allows Man-Animal to hint at the inner predator; they are both enrolled in patriotic functions. The way to normality seems to be cut off by the constant effort to keep memories at bay.

Michael Nyman The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
70 minutes; English, German, Russian
Soprano, Tenor, Baritone; harp, 2 violin, viola, 2 violoncello, piano
In the one-act chamber opera based on the case study by Oliver Sacks, an investigation into the world of a man with visual agnosia takes place. Such patients see colors, lines, boundaries, simple shapes, patterns, movement, but are unable to recognise, or find sense in, what they see.
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Stewart Copeland Tell Tale Heart
30 minutes
Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Bass; violin, viola, violoncello, double bass, percussion, piano
After the story by Edgar Allan Poe. An unnamed narrator insists on his sanity after murdering an old man. The murderer hides the body under the floorboards. Ultimately the narrator's guilt manifests itself in his victim's heart, still beating beneath the floorboards.
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Britta Bystrüm Inferno
40 minutes
Narrator; horn, 2 trumpet, trombone, tuba
Text: August Strindberg, adapted by Magnus Florin (Swedish).
The chaotically seething, occasionally convulsive music simmers like bubbling potions in an alchemist’s laboratory. --
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Lee Hoiby Bon Appétit!
18 minutes
Mezzo-soprano; flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, piano
A comic culinary extravaganza that taps the wit and antics of one of America's best-loved television personalities, Julia Child.
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John Harbison Full Moon in March
33 minutes
Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Baritone, Tenor; optional dancer; flute, oboe, bass clarinet, percussion, piano(prepared piano), violin, viola, violoncello
After the play by W. B. Yeats. A queen offers herself in marriage to the man whose song can move her; of her many suitors, none succeed. A coarse swineherd presents himself; the queen is both stirred and threatened. Recognizing that he is the one, but revolted by his appearance, she has him beheaded before he can sing.

Peter Maxwell Davies Notre dame des fleurs
6 minutes; French
Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Countertenor; flute, clarinet, percussion, piano(celesta), violin, violoncello
This mini-opera is based on the notion from the mediaeval bestiary that the best way to capture a unicorn is to ensnare him by placing a virgin in his way — he would automatically lay his head on her lap and thus fall an easy prey to the hunter's arrows.

Thea Musgrave The Mocking-Bird
28 minutes
Baritone; flute(piccolo), clarinet, percussion, violin, cello, piano
In a story by Ambrose Bierce, it is 1861 and a soldier, Sergeant Grayrock, is fearful that he is lost behind enemy lines and is bitter at this situation. The mocking-bird is a joyful memory of his earlier years.

Marc Neikrug Through Roses
50 minutes; English or German
Actor; flute, oboe, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin, viola, violoncello
In a World War II concentration camp, a virtuoso violinist is forced to play while confronted with the horror of seeing his lover on her way to the gas chamber.

Robert Xavier Rodríguez Tango
25 minutes; English or Spanish
Tenor; flute, clarinet, percussion, accordion, piano, violin, violoncello
Based on actual news clippings of the tango craze which swept Europe and the United States in the years 1913-14, the stories reflect favorable and unfavorable reactions to the tango. The tango spirit triumphs.
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Lennox Berkeley A Dinner Engagement
1 hour
2 Soprano, 2 Alto, 2 Tenor, Baritone; wind quintet, percussion, harp, piano, string quintet
An impoverished member of the English aristocracy and his wife await their dinner guests, the Grand Duchess and her gourmet son, Phillippe, whom they hope will be interested in their daughter, Susan. Elaborate preparations go wrong. All ends happily.

Stewart Copeland The Cask of Amontillado
25 minutes
Tenor, Baritone; percussion, piano, synthesizer, double bass
Edgar Allan Poe's tale of a criminal's account of a crime committed fifty years earlier, a crime for which he was never caught but now confesses.

Philip Glass The Sound of a Voice
65 minutes
Soprano, Baritone; flute(piccolo, wood flute, shakuhatchi), pipa, 2 percussion, violoncello
Its two parts explore how intimacy is achieved between people who have lived in seclusion.

Michael Gordon / David Lang / Julia Wolfe The Carbon Copy Building
72 minutes
3 Male Voices, 1 Female Voice; synthesizer, percussion, clarinet, electric guitar
In the comic-book opera, Ben Katchor and composers Gordon, Lang, and Wolfe look at the lives of a pair of 'Carbon Copy Buildings' — the phrase for two buildings built from the same architectural plan. One stands on a wealthy New York avenue and the other on a forgotten backstreet.

Joseph Horovitz Gentleman's Island
30 minutes
Baritone, Tenor; wind quintet, piano, 2 percussion, string quintet
A comic opera, based on a Bab Ballad by WS Gilbert (libretto by Gordon Snell). Two Victorian English gentlemen, shipwrecked on a desert island, cannot speak to each other because they had not been introduced before their ship went down…

Aaron Jay Kernis Goblin Market
45 minutes
Narrator; flute(piccolo and alto flute), oboe(English horn), 2 clarinet(E-flat clarinet/bass clarinet), bassoon, horn, trumpet, 1[=2] percussion, piano, violin, viola, violoncello, double bass
A unique concoction of music, mime, and masks that delves into the overripe and at times grotesque and shocking imagery of Christina Rossetti's poem.

Nicola LeFanu Dawnpath
50 minutes
Soprano, Baritone; flute(alto flute), clarinet, horn, percussion, violoncello
Two native American myths serve as the opera's inspiration. The first: all creation sprang from a single song. The second: the earliest beings on Earth were given the choice of living forever in darkness or of dying so that night might always give way to day.

Tarik O'Regan The Wanton Sublime
30 minutes
Mezzo-soprano; flute(piccolo), 2 percussion, guitar, electric guitar, violin, viola, violoncello, double bass; pre-recorded Mezzo-soprano
This one-act monodrama explores the human and mythic aspects of the Virgin Mary, who struggles to retain her flesh and blood identity in the face of external forces intent on symbolizing her as the ideal woman.

Andy Pape Houdini the Great
75 minutes
Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass; trumpet, bass guitar, guitar, synthesizer, accordion, percussion
Houdini delighted the whole world with his tricks and illusions in the early twentieth century, when emigrants thronged to America and staked everything on survival, on getting into the limelight.

Jocelyn Pook Ingerland
50 minutes; English, Latin
Baritone, Bass, Mezzo-soprano, 2 Soprano, Tenor, Voice (Bangladeshi); clarinet, bass clarinet, keyboard, accordion, violin, viola, violoncello; recorded text
The composer, living near a stadium, chose 'to play with the world of football chants, and explore ideas around the drama of the game — ritual, worship, tribalism, as well as heightened emotions — ecstasy, exuberance, fanatical vitriol.'
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Daniel Catán La Hija de Rappaccini
105 minutes; Spanish
Mezzo-soprano, Soprano, 2 Tenor, 3 Offstage Female Voices; 2 percussion, harp, 2 piano
Based on Nathaniel Hawthorne's story, retold by Mexican Nobel Prize-winning author Octavio Paz. Set during the ItalianRenaissance, it deals not only with the scientific struggle of good and evil, but also with the blurring grey lines created as both good and evil merge.

Nico Muhly Dark Sisters
90 minutes
5 Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Bass; percussion, 2 piano
'Dark Sisters' follows one woman’s dangerous attempt to escape her life as a member of the FLDS Church (Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints), a sect that split from mainstream Mormonism in the early 20th century largely because of the LDS Church’s renunciation of polygamy.

Photo: Marc Neikrug's Death Row Memoirs of an Extraterrestrial, Music for Galway Midwinter Festival CAPTIVE, Irish Premiere

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